"The time is always right to do what is right"
Martin Luther King Jr
Some Canadian retirees receive an unpleasant surprise when they learn Canada has legislation that can leave their spouses destitute. They are further taken aback to learn the law has roots in the American Civil War.
At the turn of the 20th century, young ladies were marrying veterans of the 1865 American Civil War in order to get their pensions. The United States government drafted legislation to prevent these "deathbed marriages" and they referred to it as “gold-digger” legislation.
In 1901 the Canadian government enacted similar legislation in the Canadian Militia Pension Act. It allowed the government to deny benefits to military widows who they deemed unworthy. Today, a survivor pension is denied if the marriage takes place after the retiree reaches age 60.
Since then, succeeding governments have written additional language to include the spouses of those who marry after retirement, thus restricting an even wider range of Canadians in public and private sectors.
“Gold-digger” legislation may have been needed 117 years ago but today it is simply archaic and unfair.
We seek the repeal of all legislation that denies survivor benefits either because of marriage after age 60, or marriage after retirement.
Our coalition is comprised of organizations that currently represent more than 5.2 million individuals.
It includes Canadian Forces retirees, pensioners associations, labour, seniors organizations and others who all wish to protect the rights and interests of retirees and their spouses.